Brooklyn Boro

5 tips on being more sustainable, the Brooklyn way

September 6, 2019 Keyshae Robinson
Brooklyn Grange's Navy Yard location. Eagle file photo by Lore Croghan
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It’s easy to feel cynical in regards to the current state of our environmental resources. With the recent release of a United Nations report highlighting the dire future of our global food supply, fires scorching the Amazon rainforest and record-breaking temperatures hitting cities across the world, the news cycle continues to project little hope in solving our global climate crisis.

But by implementing habitual sustainable practices into a daily routine, we can all be more active in preventing further damage to our fragile environmental ecosystem.

“I think it’s really about purchasing habits, consumption habits, waste habits,” said Anastasia Plakias, co-founder and COO of Brooklyn Grange Farms, the largest soil-based rooftop farming business in the world. “The key to sustainability is knowing you’re not going to be perfect and making peace with that.”

To make the transition of “going green” less intimidating, we spoke to three different eco-conscious organizations local to Brooklyn about how to be both more sustainable and more accountable. Here’s what they had to say:

Brooklyn Grange Farms:

The agricultural space opened their third farm, the largest to date, on Aug. 18th in Sunset Park. Aside from providing fresh produce to local farmer’s markets and restaurants, the space will absorb roughly 175,000 gallons of rainwater, helping to reduce the amount of CSO’s entering NYC’s water system. Learn more here

1. Find practices that make you happy

“If you enjoy skincare or beauty routines, great! Save your coffee grinds and use them as a skin exfoliator. Or if it’s shopping, shop local by visiting the nearby co-op or butcher,” said Plakias. “Most New Yorkers are incredibly busy, so it has to be habits that spark joy in order for us to actually make a routine of it.”

Grow NYC

Founded in 1970, Grow NYC is the largest environmental nonprofit in the city. With several programs, including educational outreach, waste reduction, and community gardens, their efforts provide essential sustainable resources for more than 3 million New Yorkers. Learn more here.

2. Start small

“Cooking at home is a huge step in the direction of sustainability,” said Liz Carollo, assistant director of GrowNYC’s Green Market programming. “You can buy food directly from a farmer, save your food waste and take it directly to a market for composting, or drop off your old clothing so it doesn’t go into a landfill. All great efforts in reducing your carbon footprint.”

3. Don’t let false perceptions dissuade you

“We have markets in all five boroughs and we serve every single income level,” said Carollo. “It’s ridiculous that there is a belief that if you’re lower income, you aren’t concerned about the environment because those from vulnerable communities are the most impacted by climate change.”

Earth Angel

Headquartered in Brooklyn, Earth Angel is an organization holding the local entertainment industry accountable by mitigating the waste and disposal habits on production sets. The film industry has bypassed much of the environmental criticisms typically aimed at fashion, aviation or oil industries, despite contributing an estimated 500,000 tons of waste each year in production alone. Learn more here

4. Cut back on meat

“It takes 660 gallons of water to produce one hamburger and people don’t often think about the environmental impact of agriculture,” said Emillie O’Brien, founder and CEO of Earth Angel. “When it comes to livestock, it’s even more exaggerated. Eating meat three times a week instead of five for example is a small shift that has a profound impact.”

5. Eliminate single-use plastic

“Plastics are a petroleum based product and a lot of them aren’t safe so I always advocate for using reusable straws, shopping bags, or avoiding ordering from delivery services,” O’Brien said.

Keyshae Robinson is a Brooklyn-based writer and flight attendant.

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